The Simpsons Family Tree
Matt Groening’s The Simpsons is a TV show that needs no introduction. It is such a central part of present-day popular culture, it may well be the best known TV series of all time. It has won practically everything there is to win, but if there is one award that best describes its place in the world of entertainment, it is Time Magazine naming it the best television series of the century.
At the center of the TV show is, of course, the Simpsons family. So here we take a look at this iconic family, where they come from, and the relationships between them.
The Simpsons Family: Origin and History
The origins of this hugely successful series start in 1985 when Matt Groening, the author of a successful comic strip called Life in Hell, was asked to adapt it for a TV show. Groening worried that this adaptation might cost him the rights to his successful comic strip, and he instead quickly came up with a group of characters inspired by his own family. The initial drawings of the characters, done in the lobby of the office he was going to pitch them in, were roughly done, under the assumption that animators would improve them later. They did not. And thus the characters that have entertained the world for decades were born.
A caricature of the working class father, Homer is an unashamedly crude depiction of a certain stereotype. He very often mouths off without thinking – often with dubious leaps of logic, pays little attention to his weight, drinks a little too much, but can surprisingly come up with great moments of wit and insight, and even athleticism when push comes to shove. While he isn’t necessarily the model father, he is also incredibly protective of his family.
As with most couples, Homer’s wife Marjorie (simply shortened to ‘Marge’), balances him out. She is considerably more thoughtful, tries to be the sensible one, and in true Simpsons form, is remarkably blind to the glaring issues that run throughout her obviously dysfunctional family.
The Simpson clan’s first-born. He is a razor-tongued boy, shows a callous disregard for authority, gets up to all sorts of mischief, and is terribly rebellious and invariably gets away with his escapades. In fact, his name is simply the word “brat” rearranged – which should express all there is to say about this character.
Two years Bart’s junior, Lisa is an incredibly talented, intelligent, and precocious child. She might as well be her father and brother’s alter-ego. She is vegetarian, shows remarkable political awareness with her support for the Free Tibet cause, and plays the saxophone. Her heart is always in the right place and she is constantly trying to do good. Although her efforts are always thwarted, in no small part thanks to the characters she is surrounded by.
The baby of the family, Maggie is nearly two and, oddly enough, still crawls around with a pacifier in her mouth. She is also thought to be exceptionally gifted, like her sister, though she hardly ever speaks.
Abraham, aka Abe, aka Grampa, is Homer’s dad, currently living in a retirement home courtesy of his son. He served in the Second World War and likes to spend his time regaling whoever happens to be listening with tales of the old times. While all the Simpsons are named after members of Groening’s immediate family, Abraham just happened to be a happy coincidence. Groening left the naming of this character to other writers. They just happened to settle on what turned out to be Groening’s own grandfather’s name!
Mona Simpson is Grampa’s first wife. She turns up in the show and explains that she left her family after becoming involved with the hippie movement. She eventually dies in the show, leaving Homer wrestling with the reality of her passing.
Patty and Selma Bouvier
Patricia and Selma are twins, sisters-in-law to Homer. They detest him, and he in turn deeply dislikes them. They are both surly characters. Selma, the older of the two, has divorced multiple times and longs to find a partner. Despite their shared animosity, Homer and Selma occasionally come to each other’s aid. He even tried to help her adopt a child by pretending to be her husband. Patricia comes out as lesbian at some point in the show and starts to openly date women, abandoning the single life.
Extended Simpson Family
Apart from these main characters who are dominant in the series, there is a whole host of fringe characters who make up the Simpsons’ extended family. Here are some of the most colorful:
There’s Herbert, Grampa’s son from another marriage and Homer’s step-brother. Grampa put him up for adoption shortly before he married Homer’s mother. There’s also Abbey, rumored to be Homer’s half-sister, and allegedly fathered by Grampa during the war.
There’s Chet, Homer’s uncle. Hortense, his aunt. Stanley, Homer’s nephew, and uncle Tyrone – a more elderly relative.
There are also a few ancestor’s of the Simpsons family tree who also make appearances in the show. Mabel Simpson, who came by the Simpson name by way of marriage, and Hiram, Mabel’s ex-husband. The two had a daughter, Eliza. Eliza rescues a slave called Virgil. He adopts the name Simpson and ends up running off with Mabel. Mabel and Virgil have a son, Abraham. It’s unclear how many children they have, but a generation after them comes Abe – Grampa. In the series, Grampa’s dad is said to be alive but the two are not in contact. Mainly on account of the fact that Grampa has no interest in talking to him.
A few other characters of note include Cyrus, Homer’s uncle, and Amber Simpson. Amber is both Homer and Grampa’s ex-wife, much to Homer’s relief, and Grampa’s disappointment. If you’re wondering how that came to be, the story involves mistakes made in Vegas, and deception to fix them. If you’re still stumped, well, that’s a pretty good cliffhanger to leave you on, and motivate you to watch the show!